Where we live: Homeless TeenagerPosted: Updated:
KENNEWICK, Wash.-- All week KNDU is featuring stories on the 5:00 and 6:00 news about where people live, but what if you don't have a place to call home?
18-year-old Berta Riojas and her one year-old daughter, Evellynne, are essentially homeless. Riojas says they've lived in at least six different places over the past year. Riojas moved out of her mom's house at 14 because of family problems and has been bouncing around from house to house since then, but remains a student at New Horizons High School in Pasco.
Right now, Riojas and her daughter are staying with her older sister. Her sister also has a one year-old baby, and all four share a one-bedroom apartment in Kennewick.
Riojas says. "It's pretty spacey, but I don't really have a bed, just sleep on the floor" in the living room. Her daughter doesn't have a crib and sleeps on the floor next to her. Every night, they dig blankets and pillows out of a hall closet, set up their "bed" on the floor, then fold everything back up and put it away in the closet the next morning, so the living room can be used again.
Berta doesn't have a dresser or a closet, and she says she doesn't even have enough clothes to put in one. She only has 1 laundry basket full of clothes for herself and 1 laundry basket of clothes for Evellynne, both of which she keeps in her sister's closet. Her sister lives in the one bedroom of the house.
All four, Berta, her sister, and both of their babies, share 1 kitchen, 1 dining room, and 1 small bathroom. "It's hard because we don't have our own personal space. My sister doesn't have her privacy and I don't have my privacy," explains Riojas.
She says it's tough, but at least it's a roof over her head. "It's embarrassing and it hurts because I have my baby."
Even through all of this, Riojas is set to graduate high school on time this spring. She plans to get a job, get a place of her own, and take college classes.